Scuba Destination Spotlight #28: Yaeyama Islands, Japan

The southernmost and westernmost populated Japanese islands of Ishigaki, Iriomote, and Taketomi are the Yaeyama Islands, which themselves form the Okinawa prefecture along with Miyaoko and Okinawa Islands.

Not yet fully appreciated, and only recently opened up to the rest of the world, the Yaeyama Islands are a fantastic getaway for anyone that both appreciates Japanese culture and prefers tropical retreats.

This little paradise islands offers fantastic beaches, relaxation, and snorkeling and diving opportunities.

Scuba Diving Yaeyama Islands

With beautiful topography and clear waters, the Yaeyama Islands have excellent dive spots.

Most of these are in shallower waters, and even though they are beginner friendly, they can be thoroughly enjoyed by advanced divers, because there are challenging areas that require diving experience, such as Osaki Hanagoi Reef, which has dive in-between rock formations and walls.

Spots like these are teeming with unique local marine life, such as the Hanagoi, which actually means anthinas fish, and is a treat to see.

Around these waters the manta rays are always present, and they’re one of the biggest reasons for scuba diving on this location.

One of most famous local dive ports, the Manta Scramble, consists of cleaning stations for manta rays, largely on top of big coral structures at around 10 meters.

The Islands have a semi-tropical climate, and the weather is warm and pleasant all year round.

The summer months can have the water temperatures rising up to 29°C while they can fall to 21°C in the winter, but in the summer months diving is excellent and relaxing,

Other than gorgeous topography and rock formations, marine life is a constant. It includes anthinas fish, lionfish, nudibranchs, honeycomb morays, crown anemone fish, batfish, and many others that regularly inhabit the waters.

The Japanese government keeps a watchful eye on these waters, because they plan on conserving the natural beauty which consists in them.

Did you see last week’s Scuba Location Spotlight?

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Justin Carmack
Justin is a dive master and world traveler on a mission to dive and document the top 100 dive sites in the world. In doing this he hopes to bring love for the marine environment to the world!

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